Promoting resilience in times of trouble
I shall be interrupting our Back to basics series, in order to say a few words about how to handle and promote emotional resilience during these times of trouble - the most current world crisis – The Coronavirus Pandemic.
Every major life threatening crisis, has a common, most challenging feature - the interruption of daily routine, of ordinary lives. It requires us, mere mortals, to adjust to a new reality. Even reminding us that in fact, we are, mere mortals, is an aspect of a life threatening crisis situation.
Usually, at ordinary times, most of us are equipped with amazing emotional defense mechanisms that allow us to forget how fragile we are. And so, we are able to go about our business, get into cars or airplanes (even though accidents might occur) cross the street, etc. etc.. The list of everyday dangers goes on and on…
I say most of us, because some people, people who suffer from anxiety of various levels, are less equipped with these defense mechanisms and are all too painfully aware, in their daily lives, of the ‘normal, everyday’ dangers.
But, in times of crisis, life as we know it suddenly changes. We need to adjust, and find ways in which to deal with the threatening situation. On an international, national, community level, and on a personal level, health-wise and economical-wise.
So, what can we do, as parents, to promote resilience in our families and for our children?
There are many many things we can do, and I shall name but a few:
1. Shift what ever we can from the ‘circle of worry’ to the ‘circle of influence’ – That means, we humans tend to worry. Worrying is a natural reaction to stressful situations, especially the kind who offer a lot of unknown and uncertainty. But, as my dearest father always says: ‘Worrying is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do, does’nt get you anywhere’.
So, after you allow yourself to indulge in some moments of worry ☺, only natural, ask your self what can be done, and do something about it. For example: If it makes you feel more in control, stock your home with some more food and other supplies, if it makes you feel more in control, minimize visiting unnecessary public places. What ever you do to make yourself feel better is great. There’s no one right answer for every one, it is very personal.
2. Parental self regulation – remember to make your self feel better and calmer in order for you to be able to make your home calmer for your kids. Kids look up to us for signs of stress or of ‘all clear’. Self regulate in order for you to be able to help your child feel more at ease.
3. Parents as mediators -Give your kids basic information of what is going on but don’t overwhelm them. They are not able to process too much information and they might get scared from their own speculations of what is happening and what shall be in the future.
4. Media consumption - Get enough info. for yourselves, but don’t get glued to the media, for too much recurrent information only makes anxiety rise.
5. Get your priorities straight- in times of crisis, priorities might change, adjust to this change. You might even uses these times to rethink different aspects of your lives. In times of trouble there might be new opportunities for growth and explorations of new habits.
6. Stress reduction - Engage in various stress reducing activities: This is also very individual. Sports- is very stress reducing, listening to music, dancing – even at home with your toddlers, put on some music and dance together, use humor, watch great shows on t.v., call your friends (if you can’t actually meet with them…), share your thoughts and feelings, read, don’t lose hope, believe that humanity will find solutions for this too. Kids need to hear you speak of this hope in order for them to feel safer in these crazy times.
7. Be creative, be flexible – part of resilience is flexibility – these ‘crazy’ times make us train our flexibility and creativity skills. This is part of what needs to be inorder to adjust. We cannot go about our business as usual.Find creative solutions, engage in creative activities in the home.
8. Parents as Role models– Our role as parents also promote our own resilience. We need to find resources in ourselves inrorder for us to help them, make a good example of how to cope in times of trouble. They will learn from us, and next time will be maybe be able to solve their own daily problems in a more flexible way, having learned from us.
9. Daily routine – if schools and kindergartens are shut, try to build with your children some kind of routine. Children need routine in order to function better and feel safe. Routine gives the entire family a sense of balance.
10. Crisis as opportunity – times of hardship offer some opportunities too. One thing I can think of, is more parent-children time. In our modern world, many parents spend very long days at their jobs, and kids have less and less parental time from a very young age. This world crisis gives an opportunity for kids to spend more quality time with their parents and for parents to spend time with their kids… Think about it…
That’s it for today,
Will be checking on you soon…
Wishing all of us good health and better, safer times,
We will all get through this if we act together, helping each other as human beings, citizens of this amazing and sometimes unpredictable, crazy, world.
Irra Harari Friedman
Senior Educational Psychologist